Bogota, Jan 8:
The UN and the governments of the Americas condemned Wednesday’s deadly attack on a French satirical weekly as as assault on the universal rights of free expression.
France’s deadliest terror event in decades began shortly after 11.30 a.m., when at least three men armed with assault rifles and a rocket launcher burst into the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo.
The assailants killed 12 people – including Charlie Hebdo’s editor and three acclaimed cartoonists – and left 11 others wounded.
Survivors said the attackers shouted “God is great” and “we have avenged the prophet,” apparently referring to Charlie Hebdo’s previous publication of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.
“I am appalled and deeply shocked by the attack against Charlie Hebdo in Paris this morning,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “This is an attack against freedom of expression and freedom of the press – the two pillars of democracy.”
“This horrific attack is meant to divide. We must not fall into that trap. This is a moment for solidarity. Around the world, we must stand strong for freedom of expression and tolerance and stand against forces of division and hate,” Ban said.
US President Barack Obama issued a statement condemning “the horrific shooting” and offering assistance to France “to help bring these terrorists to justice.”
Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, said the assault violated “universal rights,” while Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff spoke of “an unacceptable attack on a fundamental value of democratic societies, freedom of the press.”
“We convey our condolences to the families, friends of the victims, to the French government and people, and together with the rest of the world we ask for justice,” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro wrote on Twitter.
“I would like to express my dismay and send my condolences to the French government, to President François Hollande and to the French people,” Chilean head of state Michelle Bachelet said.
Argentina, meanwhile, condemned the “barbarous terrorist attack.”
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto stressed the rejection of terrorism “in all its forms and manifestations” and offered his “most sincere condolences to the French people and government, as well as to the victims’ families.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his deep condolences to French President Francois Hollande over the deadly terrorist attack, and called the attack a “cynical crime,” Puin reaffirmed his readiness to continue cooperation in the fight against terror threat, he said.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key Thursday strongly condemned the violent attack that killed 12 people in the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine.
“Our thoughts are with the families of those who have lost loved ones, those injured in this brutal attack, and the people of France,” he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday strongly condemned the deadly assault on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in central Paris.
“We strongly condemn the heinous terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo Magazine in Paris today that has killed 12 and injured 20 people,” Erdogan said in a written statement.
British Prime Minister David Cameron while denouncing the attack said in a statement that “What has happened in Paris is an appalling terrorist outrage and I know that everyone in Britain will want to stand with the French government and with the French people at this time,”
“We must never allow the values that we hold dear, of democracy, of freedom of speech to be damaged by these terrorists,” he added.
Similar sentiments were expressed by all of the region’s governments.
Media workers associations in several Latin American countries denounced the bloodbath at Charlie Hebdo, as did the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
“Around the world, journalists working in their own countries are targeted and killed because of what they publish or broadcast. An attack of this nature in Paris shows that the threat to journalists and free expression is global, with no safe haven,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. (IANS)